BOSTON — It took nearly 15 months for the NHL schedule to bring Chuck Kobasew back to Boston, but the city has never been far from his thoughts.
Kobasew, a Vancouver native, won a national championship in his only season with Boston College
In 2000-01, enjoyed his breakout year in the American Hockey League with 38 goals and 75 points for Lowell in 2004-05, then was part of the Bruins' rebuilding project from 2007-09 before being traded to Minnesota on Oct. 18, 2009.
With the Wild making their first trip to Boston since that deal, Kobasew was able to catch up with some old teammates during Thursday's morning skate, then discussed his memories of his time in Boston.
"With the East-West thing, we don't come back here too often, so it's nice to come back," Kobasew said. "It was good [playing in Boston]. What I remember the best was coming here, not being a playoff team and making the playoffs and the next year winning the conference, getting better every year basically. It's fun to be a part of that kind of building process."
Kobasew, 28, had back-to-back 20-goal campaigns in his two full seasons in Boston. After arriving with Andrew Ference in deal with Calgary for Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau on Feb. 10, 2007, Kobasew put up a career-high 22-17-39 line in 2007-08 as the Bruins reached the playoffs for the first time since 2004. He followed that with a 21-21-42 campaign as Boston finished atop the Eastern Conference in 2008-09.
But facing a cap crunch and needing to shake up the roster after a slow start, Kobasew was the odd man out early last season, as he was shipped to the Wild for prospect Alexander Fallstrom, since-departed minor leaguer Craig Weller and a 2011 second-round pick.
"Chuck, to me, was always a true professional," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He came in and it was all business when it was at the rink. Very good individual, good person, and it wasn't easy to let him go. There's no doubt we liked him here."
Julien noted that cap issues were the main reason for the deal, and Kobasew holds no ill will to the organization.
"It's always a bit of a surprise when you get traded," Kobasew said. "It takes some time to make the adjustment. … I've got nothing bad to say about [the Bruins]. I've had great experiences here. It's a great city to play in. I had a lot of fun here and I understand it's a business."
Things haven't gone exactly as planned for Kobasew in Minnesota. A knee injury limited him to 42 games and 9-5-14 totals with the Wild last year, and a groin injury cost him another 14 games this season. He had just three goals and no assists in his first 20 games this year but has come on strong of late with three goals and an assist in his last five games while playing on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette.
"The way the season started for him, he was kind of in and out [of the lineup]," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "I was using him in different roles, left wing, right wing. [Antti] Miettinen has gone down with an injury and he's stepped in that position with Mikko and Bruno [Brunette] and done a very good job for us. He's scored some very big goals for us as of late. I see more quickness in his game, more speed in his game right now, and I'm sure a lot of that has to do with just simple confidence and him feeling good about his game."
Kobasew sees a difference as well.
"I was out for a while and when I came back I didn't play like I wanted to, didn't feel as good as I wanted to out there," Kobasew said. "But I'm starting to feel better now."